FTCA coverage for eligible Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) grantees was initially legislated through the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act (FSHCAA) of 1992 (Public Law 102- 501) by amending section 224 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act. The eligible entities ("Health Centers") are Migrant Health Centers, Community Health Centers, Health Care for the Homeless grantees, and Health Services for Public Housing Residents grantees. The FSHCAA of 1995, signed into law by the President on December 26, 1995, clarified the 1992 Act and eliminated its sunset provision, making the program permanent. The intent of the law was to increase the availability of funds for the provision of primary health care services by reducing the expenditure of Health Center funds for malpractice insurance premiums. The FSHCAAs accomplish this by making deemed Health Centers (and their officers, directors, employees and certain contractors) Federal employees for the purpose of medical malpractice. As Federal employees these organizations and individuals are immune from medical malpractice suits for actions within the scope of their employment. Potential plaintiffs must follow the requirements of the FTCA for relief. The FTCA applies to acts or omissions of covered entities in the performance of covered activities.
FTCA Information from HRSA
HRSA released PIN 2011-01: Federal Tort Claims Act in January of 2011. This is a policy manual that puts all previous PINs and PALs on the FTCA program in one place. It is located at http://bphc.hrsa.gov/policy/pin1101/pin1101.pdf.
FTCA Analyses from the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC)
Federal Tort Claims Act Coverage: Reducing Exposure for Common “Gap” Areas - Focuses both on responding to malpractice claims and lawsuits filed against the health center and /or its providers, as well as steps to take to minimize exposure to gaps in FTCA coverage.
Managing a Claim and Reducing Gap-Related Exposures Under the Federal Tort Claims Act - Discusses reducing gaps in FTCA coverage, particularly in situations in which a health center provider may be treating a non-health center patient. It also contains NACHC’s suggestions as to possible contract language and certain FTCA-related contracting considerations in health center agreements with their employees or contractors.
OB/GYN providers may assist in the labor and delivery of women who are not registered health center patients. This practice, called reciprocity, is common in many areas. However, HRSA has left undefined the question of whether this will be covered by FTCA. See NACHC’s analysis of the situation.